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"Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"

Started by Paul Czege, January 20, 2003, 03:15:19 PM

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Paul Czege

Hey,>In a Dimension Syncopatic with Ours, a short tour of my fantasy heartbreaker, written two decades ago.

I was itching to do it up like this after Ron's first article, but my scanner was down of a fried SCSI card, so the game remained unreexamined in a box of old AD&D modules. But now, after an unexpected second article on heartbreakers, and with a new SCSI card installed just weeks ago, I was powerless to resist.

And it's totally strange, but the character races still make me happy in a way I don't quite understand.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Clinton R. Nixon


I like your races, too, for some reason. The entire game sounds rad for the era and circumstances under which it's written - and the title rocks.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Jared A. Sorensen

There's always a dude with four arms, ain't there? I did a terrible post-apocalyptic game back-in-the-day called BARREN. Bipedal bears, two-headed crocodiles, cyborgs and yeah, 4-armed dudes...

And I agree with Clinton...good title, Paul.
jared a. sorensen /

Ron Edwards

Hi Paul,

All gecko characters are male; they prefer copulating with humans, and can do so without risk of offspring. At least once a year the gecko must return to his birthvillage for mating with a female of his species. The female is only six inches long; they become pregnant by biting the male's scrotum (this is very painful, a gecko usually only visits his birthvillage once a year, because he is obligated to make a trip to the harem each time he enters).


When I said that writing Heartbreakers was a form of working out one's personal issues, I never dreamed ...


Paul Czege


Clinton, I'm glad you like the races. I absolutely love the buglurz-kin and the krak-kin in Nutcracker Prince. Did you ever make the connection that the infamous Sgt. Aminar "the raper" Korg from when I ran The Pool was named from the Nutcracker Prince names list? So were other prominent NPCs in that game, Gill "tats" Hocker, Lieutenant India "NoLady" Vaunt, Manumanolo Mancanes, and Rosalus, the Queen's handmaid.

Regarding the title, in the interests of disclosure, I'm now embarrassed to admit after the compliments that "In a Dimension Syncopatic with Ours" is actually the title of the tour. It's a phrase in the game's introduction I liked so much when reading it this weekend that I decided to name the tour after it. The game document itself actually bears the title L.A.R.P., an acronym inspired by M.E.R.P., that stands for Le Juan Approved Roleplaying. Le Juan is a surname I had wanted to use as a pseudonym if I were to write science fiction novels. It was wanting to avoid potential confusion with live-action roleplaying, which didn't exist as a common acronym at the time I wrote the game, and to avoid having to explain the Le Juan pseudonym thing, as well as my great enjoyment of the phrase from the introduction that caused me to neglect mentioning the game's actual name and use a title I thought would get people interested in taking the tour.

Jared, it's way interesting to me that you had the four arms meme too. I can look at the game and say without doubt that the cyclops were inspired by the one in Krull, and the Chloi by the thri-kreen in the Monster Manual II, but I honestly don't know where the four arms aspect of the darklings came from. A lot of the other juice of the darklings comes from the dark creepers in the Fiend Folio. Any idea where you caught the four arms thing?

Ron, you're absolutely dead-on right, the gecko are the race I wrote for my own adolescent issues. Maybe I didn't know the difference between reptiles and amphibians, but what better metaphor for the pain of adolescence than a slave race that stole independence and continues to struggle with the pain of relating to the opposite sex? Did you note the houri dagger? Can you say fear of beautiful prostitutes seducing and then murdering you? Of course, I only see this clearly now, in the light of twenty years hindsight. And even so, I'd love to play a burly, tortured gecko character even today.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Jared A. Sorensen

Quote from: Paul CzegeJared, it's way interesting to me that you had the four arms meme too...
...Any idea where you caught the four arms thing?

No idea. I do know that many "home brew" and heartbreaker games feature the 4-armed dude character race. Talislanta has it. SenZar has it. I can't think of any others right now but we all know they're out there...
jared a. sorensen /

Walt Freitag

Four-armed (and, more generally, six-limbed) creatures were a major feature of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels, starting in 1910. Did any major treatment of four-armed humanoids pre-date that?

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere

Andrew Martin

They're also in WEG's Shatterzone, and Games Workshop has the four-armed Genestealer.
Andrew Martin

Jack Spencer Jr

My hat goes off to you, Paul. I had tried RPG design for a bit and what I basically had was a game called Programs based on the movie Tron. The rules were red box D&D. Literally. I didn't even change the map from the sample adventure and I traced pictures from the storybook of the movie.

I might have had other ideas with more meat on them, but I recall most of my time was spent trying to make a Transformers RPG. I mean they had those tech spec cards on the back of the box that were practically RPG stats. All I had to do was figure out how to do it. They actually didn't follow any real logic. I have yet to figure out what the hell Firepower reflects. Que sera sera.

Mike Holmes

Ahem, the four armed guys are, IIRC, Orlens, from Gamma World (And probebly even Metamorphosis Alpha). And most heartbreakers of he Fantasy and Sci-Fi generes have had them since.

Member of Indie Netgaming
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Quote from: Mike HolmesAhem, the four armed guys are, IIRC, Orlens, from Gamma World (And probebly even Metamorphosis Alpha). And most heartbreakers of he Fantasy and Sci-Fi generes have had them since.

I don't remember four-armed guys in metamorphosis alpha, although they could have been hidden in there. the "established" mutant races that weren't anthropomorphized animals (cougaroids, felinoids, and as one reviewer put it "everything but voidoids") didn't have specific names; they instead had roman numeral labels. not very memorable at all.

gamma world may have been the source for the heartbreaker authors, but definitely the quintissential four-armed humanoids were the green martians from ERB. although he took his barsoomian races from theosophy... there were some early (pre-gamma world) dragon magazine articles about barsoom using d&d rules.

I'm wondering about the sources of the cat-races. I had a cat-race, but I thought mine was better than most, because I based them on a combo of lewis carroll's chesire cat, "puss in boots", and "tom tit tat", as well as a story about the king of cats; so my cat-folk were sub-halfling-sized felines that could walk upright or masquerade as a large but otherwise ordinary cat. most other cat-races seem to be mansized, with rippling thews.

ERB had a cat-race (on one of the moons of barsoom) that sort of fits; there was also niven's kzin and the lion-men from flash gordon. I'm presuming the heartbreaker cat-folk came in via one of those, but I'm not sure who was the first to add them.
John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects:

Ron Edwards

Tortured? They copulate constantly with human females!


I wanna play a gecko too, but not because it sounds tortuous.



I seem to remember dimly that in the wake of the Drow series of AD&D adventures, I tried to come up with what would almost certainly be a Heartbreaker.  I didn't get far, but the comments about 4-armed races reminds me of the spider-people.  I don't remember what I called them, something stupid I expect, but they were basically Driders.

Speaking of "issues," I hate spiders in real life.

Anyone else do the spider thing?  Or the bug thing, perhaps influenced by Alan Dean Foster's magical singing thing or Heinlein or whatever?
Chris Lehrich

Shreyas Sampat

Did the bug thing.

I was dissatisfied with the Ananasi of Werewolf, of all things, and decided that they were the survivors of innumerably many insect Changing Breeds.  Envision flocks of metal dragonflies darkening the sky, and wasps with glittering filigree wings.  Eek.

So, I busily threw these creatures at my D&D group for a while.  Did they love that...

Henry Fitch

Y'know, I really like the idea of a little percentile chart for every spell. I envision printing them out and making a little index card for each one, and the wizard-player would take out the ones he'd "memorized" or whatever and hold them in front of him, or even draw them from a deck for some reason...

I might actually use this.
formerly known as Winged Coyote